GREEN BAY—Let’s have some fun with seedings.
On a piece of paper, write the numbers 1-6. Now, next to each number, write the name of the team you think will occupy that seeding position in the NFC playoffs. I’ll give you a minute.
OK, here’s what I’ve written: 1. Falcons, 2. Packers, 3. 49ers, 4. Redskins, 5. Seahawks, 6. Giants.
That’s my seedings for the NFC playoffs, not because I’m trying to favor the Packers, but because I honestly believe that’s how it’ll turn out. Yeah, I’m picking a Seahawks win over the 49ers this Sunday.
Even though I’m not trying to favor the Packers, I will enthusiastically admit those seedings would, in my opinion, greatly favor the Packers.
No. 1 seed? I don’t want it. The Falcons can have it. I don’t want any part of the Giants in the divisional round, and I can’t imagine the Falcons are wild about the prospect of having to beat the Giants, again, after having just beat them a few weeks earlier. Sound familiar?
The No. 2 seed, in my opinion, is the most favorable spot in the NFC playoffs. You get the first-week bye and you avoid either the Giants or the 49ers in the divisional round, and make no mistake about it, those are the league’s two power teams. The Giants and the 49ers have the muscle up front that wins in January, especially in cold-weather games.
Simply put, I’d rather play in Atlanta in the conference title game, in a dome and out of the cold, than accept the road to the Super Bowl I think would be required of the Packers to win home field advantage for the playoffs.
Aaron Rodgers and his talented receivers indoors in the playoffs sounds good to me, and it begins with the Packers winning this Sunday. OK, so what do your seedings look like?
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Titans and achieve other pursuits, too.
1. Know what’s at stake—This is about a bye week. This is about only having to win two playoff games to get to the Super Bowl, instead of having to win three.
2. Deny big runs—The Packers didn’t do that against Adrian Peterson and it nearly cost them the game. Chris Johnson is a big-play back that can make a defense pay for missed tackles.
3. Light ’em up—The Titans don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with the Packers. Don’t let ’em hang.
4. Make kicks—This has become a critical issue. Mason Crosby has to find the range and regain his coach’s confidence. The Packers need to know they can trust their kicker in the postseason.
5. Play the right way—Aaron Rodgers coined this phrase and it’s a solid late-season theme. Playing the right way means playing as you need to play to win in the postseason.
6. Make him be a passer—Second-year Titans quarterback Jake Locker has the feet to do what his lack of experience won’t allow him to do with his arm.
7. Treat the weather as a friend—It’s winter in Green Bay and Lambeau Field can be a harsh place to play. Make it harsh for the visiting team.
8. Get off the field—Not only on third down, but as early as possible in this game. Rodgers is on a bum ankle that could use some rest. It would be to the Packers’ advantage to limit the playing time of several players.
9. Go home for the holidays—Home, as in a warm, safe place by the fire to watch the 49ers and Seahawks, wrap the gifts and put them under the tree. Be festive in a safe way.
10. Be proud—To have recovered from a 2-3 start and be in the hunt for one of the top two seeds in the NFC is a major accomplishment for a team whose No. 1 foe this season has been injuries. Overcoming that adversity should bond this team for a deep run into the postseason. Additional coverage - Dec. 20